After six years with ING Investment Management, Asia head of equities Nick Toovey will leave the firm on February 1, when Pranay Gupta will assume the newly created post of Asia-Pacific chief investment officer.

ING IM would not comment on the reasons for Toovey's departure or where he might be headed, nor whether he will be replaced. Spokeswoman Cynthia Church would only say that Gupta is not a direct replacement for Nick.

Gupta has been based in Hong Kong since he joined ING last year as deputy CIO at ING IM Europe.

With19 years of experience in fundamental and quantitative portfolio management and research, he was formerly deputy CIO of UK insurer the Pearl Group, where he developed asset allocation and investment risk analytics. Gupta has also been head of global quantitative strategies at ABP Investments, where he managed a $24 billion quantitative multi-strategy fund.

He has experience of the Asian markets, having worked as chief investment strategist for Asia at Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking and head of quantitative research at JP Morgan Chase Investment Management, where he managed investment teams in Asia, Japan, Europe and the US.

Before joining ING Investment Management, Toovey worked at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers in Singapore, where he held the positions of CIO and then chief operating officer responsible for Asia-Pacific. Prior to that, he was a UK equity portfolio manager at Mercury Asset Management in London.

As for progress on the plan -- as outlined by ING IM global CIO Jan Straatman in a Financial Times interview on December 21 -- to organise ING's 300-strong investment team in Europe into 14 boutiques and extend the strategy to Asia and the Americas, Church says: "The evolution of this model will be phased."

The model refers to a series of specialised investment teams with unique processes supported by a common platform for trading, risk analytics and governance, business management and investment services, she says. "We are already organised like that to a significant degree," adds Church, "and, where relevant, are exploring globalising the boutiques. Existing examples are bank loans [and] emerging debt."